Will New N.C.A.A. Rules Really Keep Agents and Boosters at Bay?

Via The New York Times By  

If college athletes are permitted to cash in on their fame, how can the N.C.A.A. forbid guidance from people who have long worked in the shadows?

The world of college sports was rocked nearly 30 years ago when a Las Vegas newspaper published a photograph of three U.N.L.V. basketball players casually drinking beer in a hot tub with Richard Perry, a man nicknamed the Fixer who was known for rigging horse races and basketball games.

Though the players admitted only to accepting money from Perry, and gambling charges were never brought, the scandal provoked by that photograph — published in The Las Vegas Review-Journal a little more than a month after the unbeaten Rebels lost to Duke in the Final Four — accomplished what an armada of N.C.A.A. investigators could not. It ushered Coach Jerry Tarkanian out the door.

After the N.C.A.A. laid out plans this week for allowing athletes to cash in on the use of their names, images and likenesses, that long-ago photo might be viewed through a contemporary prism as a simple branding exercise — an embodiment of college basketball’s first bad-boy team.

If a photograph like that surfaced now, it would almost certainly not be published in a newspaper, but on a player’s Instagram feed. And perhaps instead of empty Miller High Life cans, champagne flutes or something more carefully curated would be visible.

One of the more intriguing aspects of the N.C.A.A.’s move toward lifting the lid off income opportunities for athletes is that it will require the association to gingerly welcome boosters and agents into a world where they have largely operated in the shadows — if only to avoid brazenly flouting the amateurism edicts of college sports, a billion-dollar industry whose bedrock is an unpaid labor force.

If the N.C.A.A is to allow athletes to cash in on their fame, how can it not permit them to hire agents and advisers to guide them along the way? And while it may now allow a booster with, say, a car dealership to use the star running back or point guard as the centerpiece of a marketing campaign, how can the N.C.A.A. police whether that offer was made improperly during recruiting? Determining what constitutes fair market value in the world of social media influencing, versus a bribe to attend a particular college, will also be cloudy.

As suggested in the 31-page report on the topic that the N.C.A.A. released on Wednesday, the Division I, II and III committees that are charged with developing rules from the report’s guidelines “will be in uncharted territory.”

In more colloquial terms, the N.C.A.A. is allowing what it has long viewed as a fox into its henhouse, and then asking committees to develop rules — or “guardrails” in the association’s jargon — to keep the chickens safe.

Via The New York Times –

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